#79 The Myth of Invincibility & Undergoing Open-Heart Surgery with Dr. Akil Taher

Dr. Akil Taher is a practicing physician based in Gadsden, Alabama. Born and raised in Mumbai, India, Akil moved to Sylvania, Ohio, to train as a family physician at the Flower Hospital. After undergoing open-heart surgery in August 2009, Dr. Akil made it his mission to spread the message of a heart-healthy lifestyle. He is the author of Open Heart, a book detailing his experiences leading up to and following his open-heart surgery and his lifestyle choices to reclaim his health. Today, he is a heart-health speaker, resurgent physician, mountaineer marathoner, septuagenarian athlete, and a whole-food, plant-based diet proponent.

Dr. Akil joins me today to share his life before undergoing open-heart surgery and why he didn’t believe heart disease could happen to him. We discuss his experience with depression and how those negative thoughts and behaviors manifested into physical symptoms. We discuss how undergoing open-heart surgery became the pivotal moment he finally decided to transform his life and make healthier lifestyle choices. We discuss his physical, mental, and emotional state immediately following open-heart surgery and why he chose to avoid taking medication to reduce his post-surgery pain. We discuss the moment he realized his diet was impacting his health and why he decided to adopt a whole-food, plant-based diet. We also discuss why paying attention to the areas your body retains fat is often a better indicator of the state your health is in, despite what your BMI levels show, and why it’s important for doctors to ‘practice what they preach’ about making healthy lifestyle choices.

“I had it in my mind that I had only two choices left now: either to continue this horrific, painfully slow end-of-life journey…or to turn my life around, eat better, and move myself more.”
– Dr. Akil Taher

This week on In the Doctor’s Chair:

  • What Akil’s life was like before undergoing open-heart surgery
  • Falling into the trap of believing you’re invincibility
  • Battling depression and how Akil’s negative thoughts and behaviors impacted his health
  • Akil’s physical, mental, and emotional state after surgery
  • Akil’s drive to run in a marathon after open-heart surgery
  • How Akil realized his diet was impacting his health
  • What a whole-food, plant-based diet is…and what it is not
  • Why your BMI is less important than where your body is retaining fats
  • Why Akil considers COVID-19 as a blessing in disguise
  • Why doctors should follow their own health advice
  • Akil’s tips for developing a resilient mind


Connect with Dr. Akil Taher:


In the Doctor’s Chair 

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